Second omicron case in NC; hospitals worry holidays will bring case surge

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By Leslie Moreno, WRAL multimedia journalist

Raleigh, N.C. — A 2nd lawsuit of the coronavirus' omicron variant has been confirmed successful North Carolina, a researcher said Wednesday.

Dirk Dittmer, an immunologist astatine the University of North Carolina astatine Chapel Hill, said helium couldn't supply specifics astir the idiosyncratic infected with the fast-spreading variant, lone that the lawsuit wasn't successful Charlotte, wherever North Carolina's archetypal omicron lawsuit was confirmed past week.

"It appears that the microorganism is getting astir the state," Dittmer told WRAL News.

On Thursday morning, a spokeswoman for the authorities Department of Health and Human Services said the 2nd lawsuit was identified successful a idiosyncratic from the eastbound fractional of the state.

The delta variant remains the ascendant strain of the microorganism successful North Carolina, she said, noting that it has been recovered successful much than 95 percent of DNA tests connected microorganism specimens successful the state.

Still, Duke University Health System already worries the caller variant could erstwhile again swamp hospitals with precise sick patients.

More than 1,500 radical statewide are hospitalized with COVID-19, and wellness experts accidental that fig volition rapidly summation if radical don't support themselves during the vacation season.

The transmissibility seems to beryllium overmuch much increased," Dr. Thomas Denny, Chief Operating Officer of the Duke Human Vaccine Institute. "It appears that the objective course, oregon the symptoms, are a spot little for omicron. The 1 country that we’re acrophobic about, if you person overmuch much transmissibility and person galore much infections astatine immoderate 1 point, the accidental you tin overwhelm the wellness systems conscionable becomes that overmuch much apt due to the fact that you person truthful galore much radical that are infected truthful the chances that immoderate volition person complications, oregon a precocious fig volition person complications, are there."

"We are truly acrophobic that we are opening to spot the post-travel interaction present successful the hospitalizations of people,” said Dr. Becky Smith, an infectious illness adept with Duke Health.

Coronavirus infections and related hospitalizations person been rising steadily since Thanksgiving. The 3,755 caller cases reported Wednesday were a 14 percent leap from a week ago, and the 3,200 cases a time implicit the past week is the highest the state's mean has been successful 2 months.

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When combined with vacation question and the commencement of the flu season, the omicron variant and the still-present delta variant of the microorganism make a cleanable tempest for infections, Smith said. She added that she believes omicron volition beryllium the ascendant variant successful North Carolina by January.

"It's truly going to enactment a strain connected ICU capacity, truly infirmary furniture capacity," she said. "[This is] conscionable a plea to anyone who has not yet been vaccinated: Please support yourself."

Already, 86 percent of the COVID-19 patients astatine Duke Health's hospitals are unvaccinated, arsenic are 96 percent of those successful intensive care.

“What I truly wanted to bash was scope retired to everyone, to conscionable punctual you that vaccination remains highly protective against terrible disease, hospitalization and death," Smith said.

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